Time-lapse photography for events

Detailing how time-lapse photography can be put to effective use to capture various event scenarios.

Time-lapse for events

Time-lapse is the perfect medium for capturing and managing events of any scale. Professional camera systems can function internally and externally, enabling reliable coverage of each phase of an event, including preparatory works, the occasion itself and any clean-up operations in its aftermath.

As a versatile mode of photography, time-lapse can be applied to events from a host of different genres. From popular sports, live concerts and special ‘one-of-a-kind’ occasions, time-lapse video not only provides an accurate overview of an event but can help to preserve its memory.

In addition, with remote capabilities enabling hands-free management of a camera system, it is possible to easily adapt to surrounding conditions ensuring fully uninterrupted capture.

Sustained capture, remotely managed

Installation of a camera system in order to time-lapse an event requires weeks, if not months, of extensive planning beforehand. The positioning of the camera must be considered carefully so that sustained capture can be guaranteed for the duration required.

Pink concert at Alton Towers
Above: capturing a live concert by P!nk at Alton Towers.

Most events are large in scale and involve sizeable crowds of people, so the perspective of capture must account for this. This sometimes means securing the camera system to an existing structure which gives enough height and distance to the project in question.

When commissioned to capture a special concert by American singer-songwriter P!nk, taking place at Alton Towers resort in the summer of 2010, we were able to utilise a building on site that provided the optimum position from which to capture the stage construction, the concert itself and the eventual de-rigging of the stage.

Open-air events like this are also at the mercy of the weather. The inner workings of a professional time-lapse camera are protected by robust outer housing that is able to carefully control the climate inside the system in spite of external conditions. Our off-grid, solar-powered set-up at St Andrews, Scotland – in place to capture construction of the first ever two-tier grandstand at ‘The Home of Golf’ – was able to withstand strong winds and torrential rain and continued functioning at optimum capacity despite low lighting levels, resulting in this stunning time-lapse video (below).

 

Remote access to the camera system means that we have control over every setting. This level of control via machine-to-machine 3G and 4G communication allows for complete micro-management of a project, down to the very last detail.

Giving our clients additional peace of mind, our secure online viewing portal – iRis 3.0 – also enables capture to be monitored by clients themselves. Access is granted via individual log-in details connected to a special dashboard tailored specifically to each company, customised with their logo and available to everyone who visits – from any device. A comprehensive date and time-stamped archive of all images are also available to download and easily share via email or any social platform.

Iconic events, individual specifications

Every event is unique and so brings with it a list of individual specifications.

An audience preparing to watch a screening at a cinema
Above: a screening at the fully functional Embankment Garden cinema.

As well as live concerts and special sporting occasions, internal events can also be incredibly worthy of documenting with time-lapse photography. While some events may occur annually, there are others that are more infrequent – perhaps completely ‘one-of-a-kind’ – which deserve to be documented due to this exclusivity.

Our work with the BFI, which involved time-lapsing both the construction and internal fit-out of a temporary cinema venue at London’s Victoria Embankment Gardens, was used to help garner publicity for their celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the London Film Festival.

While the temporary venue has returned each year since, this is only for a few days during the LFF, and our time-lapse helped to drum up excitement on the lead up to its first ever grand opening. The fully post-produced video was made available on the BFI London Film Festival Facebook page.

For internal events, capture is subject to various artificial lighting conditions which can be a challenge for camera systems that are operating constantly for projects of a lengthy duration. Managing systems remotely allows complete control over the camera system hands-free.

Events hosted indoors can still be of considerable size and scale, taking place in visually impressive venues. Time-lapse is the perfect medium to isolate and emphasise the colour, texture and overall grandeur of such places, as well as the event itself.

Working for the Royal Albert Hall, we captured a full year’s programme of prestigious performances – that’s 390 events over the course of 12 months at the venue. For this, the camera system had to be monitored remotely around the clock, with each event requiring individual specifications.

Our completed time-lapse video features the following:

  • the Royal Variety Performance
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • Masters Tennis
  • The Proms.

 

Can you spot them all in the video? This is one of our most popular edits to date, garnering over 100,000 views on YouTube. As a lively venue that operates 24/7, this is perhaps the best example of our truly unique event management and just what can be achieved with this mode of photography.

Time-lapse for events, then, is an excellent way to document, as well as manage, all kinds of occasion. Not only can it be applied to the same quality of effect in any environment, it is also a valuable and visually impressive means of recording events from any sector.

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